Vol. 22, No. 5

  • Accidents:
    • Armstrong reports neck fracture, electrical shock in 6 weeks at Parkway Mine (106)
    • $2,000 Penalty proposed in conveyor incident at Leucite Mine #11 (107)
    • Platform Failure leads to back fracture at El Segundo Mine (107)
    • Truck driver survives fall over dump edge at Las Vegas Paving (108)
    • Demand for drug and alcohol test reportedly led to broken leg at SCH Terminal Services LLC (108)
    • Kettlebottom in mine roof falls, breaks miner’s leg at CVB No. 1 (109)
    • Shoal Creek Mine reports three safety incidents in two days (109)
    • CO empties Deer Run Mine for second time in 9 months (110)
    • Worker has arm crushed at Canadian-owned gold mill (111)
    • Vulcan settles crane accident violation for $30,000 (112)
    • Pine Branch settles accident citations and orders where spoil pile failed (112)
  • Criminal Proceedings: Second indictment issued in Blankenship case; postponement sought (113)
  • Electrical Standards: S&S, unwarrantable failure upheld for pump violations in return air course (115)
  • Fatalities:
    • Fifth-generation coal miner killed in rib fall at Deep Mine 41 (117)
    • Driver for fuel contractor dies in 3rd fatal overturn at Republic Energy since 2009 (117)
    • Miner with four days of experience dies in Ulrich Pit’s Dredge Pond (118)
    • Mine operator dies in fall at unpermitted Kane’s Bluestone Quarry (118)
    • In death at Tinsley Branch HWM, foreman condoned entry into unsupported highwall hole (119)
    • Inattention to pump warning, lack of first aid led to death at Brewer Sand (121)
    • Allied Barton Security adopts substance abuse policy after coal dock death (123)
  • Inspections: Coronado’s Pocahontas Mine gets six orders during impact inspection (124)
  • Part 50 Reporting: ‘Reckless disregard’ finding upheld for failing to report miner’s injury (127)
  • Pattern of Violations: Commissioners mull accepting POV and safeguard challenges (130)
  • Private Suits: Newmont settles suit in 2011 death at Nevada gold mine (136)
  • Review Commission Orders and ALJ Decisions (138)

Let Freedom Ring!

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the District Court’s gag order issued in the trial of former Massey executive Donald L. Blankenship, at least in terms of the press and public’s right to view court documents.

The 4th Circuit said, “The public enjoys a qualified right of access to criminal trials; pretrial proceeding; and “documents submitted in the course of a trial,” including documents filed in connection with a motion to dismiss an indictment and other pretrial filings.

“Where the right of an accused to a fair trial is at stake, the public will not be denied access absent “specific findings . . . demonstrating that, first, there is a substantial probability that the defendant’s right to a fair trial will be prejudiced by publicity that closure would
prevent and, second, reasonable alternatives to closure cannot adequately protect the defendant’s fair trial rights.”

“Having carefully reviewed the record, although we commend the district court’s sincere and forthright proactive effort to ensure to the maximum extent possible that Blankenship’s right to a fair trial before an impartial jury will be protected, we are constrained to conclude that the order entered here cannot be sustained.”

The full text of the 4th Circuit’s ruling is here.blankenship_ca4_20150305

The Disaster That Shall Not Be Named

So apparently, MSHA employees have been forbidden from even mentioning the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster that occurred on April 5, 2010, killing 29 miners, and we are getting mixed messages from the government.

During a “stakeholders” meeting this week, MSHA employees made it clear that the words “Upper Big Branch” are verboten among government employees.

It’s like the Harry Potter story and Voldemort … or The Trial by Franz Kafka.

The disaster that shall not be named. Involving he who shall not be named. With documents and filings that shall not be seen. And facts that shall not be heard. It is a circumstance that cannot be described. In a world that makes no sense.

Meanwhile, here is the link on the oral argument before the 4th Circuit on the gag order issued by Judge Irene Barger.